The Development Of Ballistic Missiles In The United States Air Force 1945-1960 (General Histories)

The Development Of Ballistic Missiles In The United States Air Force 1945-1960 (General Histories)

  • Publish Date: 2015-01-29
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Office of Air Force History;U.S. Air Force
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Following World War II, the onset of nuclear weapons, long-range jet bombers, and ballistic missiles radically changed American foreign policy and military strategy. The United States Air Force, led by men of far-sighted vision and uncommon dedication, accepted the challenge of organizing and leading a massive research and development effort to build ballistic missiles. In the quarter of a century since, these weapons have constituted one of the three legs of the strategic triad-the basis of America's strategy of deterring nuclear war-yet they have received less attention from the public and within the Air Force than the more glamorous manned bombers of the Strategic Air Command or the missile-launching submarines of the U.S. Navy. This volume attempts to correct the imbalance by telling the story of the development of Air Force ballistic missiles. It concentrates on the first generation of ballistic missiles: the intercontinental Atlas and Titan, and the intermediate range Thor. Although the effort to develop rockets has a longer history than commonly assumed, the modern history spans the relatively short era from 1945 to 1960. During this brief interval, missiles advanced from drawing board to alert status, where the next generation now remains poised to deter war. The author describes the difficulties involved in the technological competition with the Soviets to be first to develop and deploy a ballistic missile force. With innovative leadership, the Air Force succeeded also in overcoming conflict with the Army and Navy, budgetary constraints, administrative complications, and of course formidable engineering problems. Jacob (Jack) Neufeld has done a thoughtful, thorough job of research in an immense amount of documentation. He came to the task with broad experience in the subject matter. He first joined the history program at Eighth Air Force, Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts; his initial assignment was to cover the command's ICBMs, including the Titan II and Minuteman, in the annual history. When he came to Washington and joined the Office of Air Force History in 1970, he produced monographs on missiles and space. He also had other diverse assignments, usually in the area of the history of research, development, and technology generally. Before long he earned a well-deserved reputation as an expert in these fields. In the course of his extensive research, Mr. Neufeld also met and interviewed many of the leading people involved in Air Force science and technology. Although the development of ballistic missiles is largely an administrative history, it is also the story of the herculean efforts of several key individuals. The effort could not have succeeded as it did without the fortuitous appearance on the scene of Trevor Gardner, Gen. Bernard A. Schriever, and Dr. John von Neumann. How these men conceptualized, promoted, and directed the program forms the basis of the story. Additionally, the development of ballistic missiles revolutionized the way the Air Force conducted research and development, having a profound and longlasting effect on how the service acquired weapons of all types. Mr. Neufeld's fascinating history details these important changes in the process of relating how the service conceived, developed, and brought into the arsenal one of the most revolutionary weapons in the long history of warfare.

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